Notes on the back of a copy of Les Miles’ contract while pondering that $1.25 million Michigan buyout clause therein …
… So far we have no outright fire when it comes to the Les Miles-Michigan story, but smoke signals abound.
There are now multiple reports from Michigan, including one Wednesday from the Detroit News, which say Michigan has reached out to Miles, its loyal soldier on the Southern front. The Detroit News report, among others, also refutes the assertion that Michigan has already offered the job to Duke’s David Cutcliffe (who coincidentally was hired there by LSU athletic director Joe Alleva) and was turned down.
Dave Miller of NationalFootballPost.com says San Francisco 49ers coach and former Michigan quarterback Jim Harbaugh remains the Wolverines’ top choice, but that he believes Harbaugh will stay in the NFL. There is rampant speculation that he will go from the 49ers across San Francisco Bay to the Oakland Raiders after previously coaching at Stanford (could a move to San Jose State be in the offing one day as well?).
That makes Miles, Miller said, Michigan’s next top choice, especially for Jim Hackett, the former Miles teammate and current interim athletic director who is doing the hiring. But there has always been and continues to be anti-Miles sentiment in the Michigan administration, possibly out of fear that UM makes a very public play for Miles and he turns them down (This whole thing is starting to sound like finding a prom date).
If not Harbaugh or Miles, Miller said Michigan may go after unemployed tough guy Greg Schiano, the former Rutgers and Tampa Bay coach.
From afar, the talk of overtures to Miles and Cutcliffe — whether he was indeed offered the job or not, Michigan probably at least put out feelers — make it look like Hackett and the school have moved past Harbaugh and may be trying to line up likely takers for their job.
… Remember, all this is being done through back channels. Hackett hasn’t and won’t call Alleva to ask for permission to speak to Miles (again, kind of like a prom date). He’s going to go through Miles’ agent, George Bass in Dallas. And Bass is as secretive as they come — sort of the ying to Jimmy Sexton’s (Nick Saban and Jimmy Graham’s agent) highly visible yang — a quality that no doubt serves Miles well, especially at times like these.
And that kind of contact makes it easy for Miles to employ plausible deniability, as he did Sunday when he told reporters on a teleconference about the Music City Bowl that he hasn’t talked to Michigan.
How about you, Mr. Bass? Mr. Bass isn’t taking any calls at this time — unless your name is Jim Hackett.
What Miles hasn’t said categorically this time is that he is staying at LSU despite his love for Michigan. He stepped around those questions during the Sunday teleconference like Anthony Jennings on a zone read.
Like I said, no fire, but definitely smoke.
… Certainly for Michigan to hire Miles it would have to write some bigger checks, not only to the head coach (Miles makes $4.3 million per season compared to Brady Hoke who made $2.8) but to his staff.
According to USA Today, LSU’s assistant coaches make a combined $5.5 million per season. Michigan’s staff seemed out of touch by comparison at $3.5 million, but that still ranks ninth overall.
The ability to attract and pay a quality staff would be a big factor of Miles’ or any coach’s decision to take the Michigan job if offered. Whether Michigan is willing to open up the vault will be telling.
… LSU offensive coordinator Cam Cameron certainly bared his soul Monday to the Greater New Orleans Quarterback Club, saying he could have done a better job with the Tigers’ young quarterbacks this season and probably tried to get them to do too much. He also said the game plan for the Texas A&M game — which produced nearly 500 yards total offense and was replete with zone reads and jet sweeps — was a streamlined version of what LSU wants to do.
Cameron’s admission that he tried to go all NFL with Jennings and Brandon Harris is refreshing, and the way the Tigers attacked the Aggies should be a prelude to what they try to do against Notre Dame’s badly dented defense in Nashville.
It may be further frustration for those who deplore LSU’s offensive philosophy (at least pre-A&M), but there’s nothing that can be done about it now. It’s better late than never for a new offensive approach, one that for the Tigers’ sake needs to continue on Dec. 30.
… Congratulations to LSU’s La’el Collins for winning the Jacobs Blocking Trophy, given each year to the top offensive lineman in the Southeastern Conference.
Collins clearly made the most of his decision to return for his senior season. He could be rewarded with a first-round NFL draft pick in May.
Collins was LSU’s only first-teamer on the Associated Press and coaches’ All-SEC teams, a just distinction for the former Redemptorist star.
It was just plain wrong, however, that only one LSU defensive player made either team. That was linebacker Kwon Alexander, who was a second team AP selection.
No. 1 team in the SEC in total defense, No. 2 in SEC scoring defense (third nationally), No. 1 in the nation in pass efficiency defense, and not one first-teamer from LSU? Talk about Snub City.
Follow Scott Rabalais on Twitter: @RabalaisAdv.